Finalists announced for OTB/Springbak National Player of Month

Off the Block selected the finalists, and now it is up to the fans to determine who should win the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Player of the Month.


The Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Player of the Month recognizes the best individual performances from NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball players during the month and gives volleyball fans from around the world the chance to determine who was the best player.

The National Player of the Month is a two-round tournament with the fans deciding the winner through online voting on the Off the Block website.

Finalists in the first round are placed into one of five ballots based on their position. The five winners on the position ballots will advance to the championship round, along with the runner-up who received the most votes.

The online poll for the first round is now open and closes at 10 p.m. (CST) Wednesday. The championship round will be a two-day voting event with the polls closing at 10 p.m. (CST) Friday.

While there are several weekly awards in college men’s volleyball, this is the only monthly national award presented in the sport. It is also one of the two nationally awards determined solely by the fans.

Springbak, Inc. is the official sponsor of the National Player of the Month and the Fan Choice National Player of the Year at the end of the season. Springbak, Inc. produces high performance footwear used by professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, MLB and U.S. Olympic teams and the top college teams in the nation.

Check out the finalists below for the National Player of the Month in January. Individuals can vote using at the poll below or by visiting offtheblockblog.com/playerofmonth.

SETTER DIVISION


Chandler Gibb, Concordia-Irvine — Gibb is in the nation’s top 10 with a 10.19 assists per game average. He also has multiple blocks in every match and double-digit digs in three of the team’s four matches so far this month, including 10 digs and a season-high five blocks in an upset victory against CSUN.

Puna Kaniho, Grand Canyon — Kaniho guided Grand Canyon to the fifth-best attack percentage in the nation at .329 and is among the national leaders with a 10.07 assists per game average. He also helped Grand Canyon move into the top 10 of the national rankings for the first time in program history.

Micah Ma’a, UCLA — With UCLA this season switching to a traditional 5-1 offensive system, Ma’a is seventh in the nation with a 10.24 assists per game average and led the Bruins to the nation’s sixth-best attack percentage at .326. He also ended the month among the nation’s leaders with a 0.47 aces per game average.

Sanil Thomas, Ohio State — Thomas in his first season as the Ohio State starting setter is third in the nation with a 10.59 assists per game average. He also guided the Buckeyes offense to be the nation’s top 10 with .321 attack percentage.

Josh Tuaniga, Long Beach State — Tuaniga led Long Beach State offense to a nation-best .413 attack percentage. He also is fourth in the nation with a 10.56 assists per game average and helped the 49ers conclude January as one of the three renaming undefeated teams in the nation.

Joe Worsley, Hawai’i — Worsley is second in the nation averaging 10.60 assists per game. The first-year starting setter also helped the Rainbow Warriors have the second-best attack percentage in the nation at .356.

OPPOSITE DIVISION


Karl Apfelbach, UC Irvine — Apfelbach leads the Big West and is second in the nation with a 3.95 kills per game average. He also had at least 15 kills in his last four matches, including a career-high 25 kills and six aces in a four-game win versus BYU on Friday.

Kyle Ensing, Long Beach State — Ensing ended the month among the Big West and national leaders with a 3.36 kills per game average. He also had double-digit kills and at least a .300 attack percentage in five matches as the 49ers remain one of the three undefeated teams left in the nation.

Jake Hanes, Ohio State — Hanes earned a spot in the Ohio State starting lineup and had double-digit kills in four matches. The freshman is fifth in the nation with a 3.85 kills per game average and had a match-high 16 kills on a .429 attack percentage in a sweep against Penn State on Sunday.

Christian Hessenauer, UCLA — Hessenauer is in the nation’s top 25 averaging 3.17 kills per game and had a season-high 20 kills on a .457 attack percentage in a victory against Hawai’i on Sunday. He also is among the MPSF leaders with a 1.03 blocks per game average.

Robert Poole, Mount Olive — Poole is in the nation’s top 10 with a 3.52 kills per game average. In addition, Poole had multiple aces in three matches, including four aces in a four-game victory against Queens on Jan. 16.

Tanner Syfestad, UC San Diego — Syfestad leads the nation with a 5.39 kills per game average and is the only player in the nation averaging more than 4.00 kills per game. He also had five matches in January with more than 20 kills, including a season-high 27 kills in a season-opening five-game victory against McKendree.

OUTSIDE ATTACKER DIVISION

Stephen Braswell, St. Francis — Braswell leads the nation with 20 aces through the first month of the season. He also is among the EIVA leaders with a 2.80 kills per game average, including having 14 kills on a .481 attack percentage in an upset victory against UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 5.

Corey Chavers, UC Santa Barbara — Chavers is seventh in the nation with a 3.78 kills per game average and had multiple aces in three matches during the month. He also had a season-high 24 kills on a .333 attack percentage in an upset victory against Pepperdine on Jan. 20.

Gabi Garcia Fernandez, BYU — Fernandez as a freshman is in the nation’s top 10 with a 3.52 kills per game average and had double-digit kills in all but one match during the month. The former member of the Puerto Rican Boys’ Youth National Team also had a team-high 19 kills and two aces in a five-game road victory against Ohio State on Jan. 13.

Brandon Greenway, Charleston — Greenway finished the month in the nation’s top 10 with both a 2.60 digs per game average and a 1.20 blocks per game average. He also is among the EIVA and national leaders with a 3.10 kills per game average.

Dimitar Kalchev, CSUN — Kalchev is among the national leaders with a 3.15 kills per game average and had double-digit kills in six matches during January. He also leads the nation with a 0.65 aces per game average, including having a season-high four aces against Loyola on Saturday.

Collin Mahan, Loyola — Mahan has double-digit kills in every match during January and is in the nation’s top 15 averaging 3.50 kills per game. He also had both a season-high 19 kills and three aces in a victory against CSUN on Saturday.

Nicolas Szerszen, Ohio State — Szerszen leads the MIVA and is third in the nation with a 3.88 kills per game average. In addition, Szerszen is among the nation’s leaders with a .414 attack percentage and had multiple aces in three matches during January.

Stijn van Tilburg, Hawai’i — van Tilburg is among the national leaders with a 4.00 kills per game average on a .355 attack percentage. He also had double-digit kills in a four matches against nationally ranked teams in January, highlighted with a season-high 14 kills on a .684 attack percentage in a sweep against USC on Jan. 6.

Pelegrin Vargas, Fort Wayne — Vargas is fourth in the nation with a 3.86 kills per game average, including having double-digit kills in all but one match. He also helped the Mastodons end the month undefeated — one of three teams in the nation still undefeated.

MIDDLE ATTACKER DIVISION


Daenan Gyimah, UCLA — Gyimah is third in the nation hitting .465. The sophomore also finished the month among the national leaders with a 1.12 blocks per game average and 14 aces.

Jeff Jendryk, Loyola — Jendryk concluded the month with a nation-best .508 attack percentage and had double-digit kills in four matches. The 2017 finalist for the Ryan Millar Award also led the Ramblers with 27 blocks.

TJ Murray, Lewis — Murray ended the month fifth in the nation with a .437 attack percentage, including hitting more than .600 and having double-digit kills in victories against CSUN and UC Santa Barbara last week. He also is in the nation’s top 10 with a 1.20 blocks per game average.

Jack Reese, George Mason — Resse leads the EIVA and is among the national leaders with a 1.24 blocks per game average. He also hitting .414, including having a season-high 10 kills on a perfect 1.000 attack percentage in a victory against Mount Olive on Jan. 19.

Brendan Schmidt, McKendree — Schmidt is second in the nation with a .505 attack percentage and has at least nine kills in each of his last four matches. He also is among the national leaders with 12 aces and a 1.17 blocks per game average.

Scott Stadick, UC Irvine — Stadick leads the nation with 54 blocks and had at least five blocks in eight matches during January. He also had more than a .500 attack percentage four times and contributed at least five kills in every match during the month.

Matt Walsh, Ball State — Walsh is second in the nation with a 1.37 kills per game average, including a season-high 10 kills in a victory against Harvard. He also is among the national leaders hitting .393 and had four matches with double-digit kills in January.

LIBERO DIVISION


Weston Barnes, Pepperdine — Barnes leads the MPSF and is sixth in the nation with a 2.61 digs per game average. He also had double-digit digs int he last three matches, including a season-high 11 digs in a sweep against George Mason on Friday.

Evan Enriques, Stanford — Enriques is second in the MPSF and in the nation’s top 10 averaging 2.57 digs per game. He also had a season-high 15 digs in both losses to Princeton and Ohio State earlier this month.

David Parker, UC Irvine — Parker led the nation in January with 97 digs and was among the national leaders with a 2.43 digs per game average. He also had double-digit digs in seven matches.

Florian Ruhm, Limestone — Ruhm leads the nation with a 3.10 digs per game average. He also had at least 15 digs in three matches and double-digit digs in five matches during the month.

Ryan Vorderer, Lindenwood — Vorderer is third in the nation with a 2.87 digs per game average. He also had a at least nine digs in all but one of Lindenwood’s matches during the month, including a season-high 12 digs in a loss to McKendree on Jan. 18.

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